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Sophomores Making an Impact for Panthers
Knightstown’s football team defeated Hagerstown in the second game after getting solid play from the junior class. Last Friday they turned away a pesky Wes-Del squad by getting critical contributions from the sophomore class.
Those facts point toward a very positive outlook for the immediate future.
Sophomores Toby Johns, Ethan Pearson, Brice Biehl and Travis VanOsdol all played extremely well against the Warriors. Through three games the Panthers have gotten solid play from the seniors, but the underclassmen have stepped it up and improved every week.
Coach Bob Prescott mentioned those four sophomores in his post-game chat with the Banner.
“All of those guys stepped up and contributed,” Prescott said. “We’re finding that we have a little more depth and that’s going to make a difference over the course of an entire season.”
Also apparent last Friday night was the depth on the offensive line. Ten different players lined up on the front four at some point in the game as the Panthers went two deep at every spot. Each lineup proved capable of opening up the holes for a running game that bulldozed for over 200 yards.
Chris Garrett, Travis VanOsdol, Cody Hibbert, Brandon Grubbs, Andrew Duncan, Jacob Cullison, Matt Bledsoe, Zach Lake, Kyle Freeman and Jordan Kline all moved defensive players. There may have been others – I only have ten fingers.
How good was the offensive line play? Four times in the game the Panthers went for a first down on a 4th down situation and made it every time. Coach Prescott didn’t like spinach as a kid and as an adult he doesn’t like to punt. In the 4th quarter the Panthers were leading 21-7 and faced a 4th and 1 at their own 18 yard line. Under normal circumstances that would be an obvious punting situation.
But normal circumstances don’t include 6-4, 360-lb. Chris Garrett and 6-foot, 275 Brandon Grubbs on the line blocking for 200-lb. fullback Trey McColley. They got that first down with room to spare and three plays later faced another 4th and 1 at the 27.
Prescott went for it again.
The sideline referee turned to me and said, “If you’re gonna go for it at the 18, you might as well go for it at the 28.”
They got the first down again on the same play.
The Panthers needed more yards on two other 4th down plays. On 4th and 7 they ran that same play up the middle and succeeded, and on a 4th and 8, Joe Haase hit Jordan Bearhope on a 32-yard touchdown pass.
If you haven’t seen this Panther offense in action yet, you’re missing a real gun-slinging Wild West show run by Cowboy Bob.
Defensively, the Panthers allowed Wes-Del two big plays - a 37-yard touchdown pass and 58-yard pass completion. On that longer play, Bearhope picked the pocket of Warrior Justin Vance at the one-yard line, literally ruining the kid’s night. Those two plays accounted for 95 of the Warrior’s 157 passing yards. They had just 51 yards rushing. That’s 112 yards of offense during the rest of the game.
The Panthers left the field with a significant list of injuries after the battle with Wes-Del. Jordan Bearhope suffered a high ankle sprain and Tyler Smoot missed the game with multiple injuries to his shoulder and right hand. Trey McColley is nursing a banged up shoulder, and the same type of injury is plaguing Nathan Hibbert. Brandon Grubbs has a sprained ankle. Prescott said he expects all of them to be ready for North Decatur Friday night.
Two Number 1 Rivals
Three weeks ago I wrote that everyone on Knightstown’s schedule circles the game as their “game of the year”. Many schools consider the Panthers a measuring point of their progress and potential for success. Knightstown is a lot of teams’ number one rival. Tri High had already established the “Victory Bell,” a traveling trophy they share with their top rival, Knightstown. Now Eastern Hancock has introduced the “Plow Share & Anvil”, another traveling trophy they’ll play for against their top rival, Knightstown.
Useless Sports Trivia
The victory over Wes-Del was the 11th straight for the Panthers, but the Warriors scored against Knightstown for the first time in six years. The Panthers had shut them out five straight times. The third quarter touchdown ended a streak of 25 consecutive quarters in which the Panthers had held the Warriors scoreless. The last time they put points on the scoreboard was in 2000 when they were defeated 34-7. Coach Bob Prescott had something to do with the streak starting and ending. He was the Wes-Del coach in 2000.
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